What I've learned in my first 6 months doing SEO

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  • SEO
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I write this post mainly for anyone who is just starting out, and anyone who has done SEO for more than a few months will already know the truth of what I'm about to say. Either way, take from it what you wish.

I'm happy to help anyone who is just starting out, and I feel like I'm in a great position to do that because I'm a) not a beginner, so I'm no longer utterly confused and b) I'm not a seasoned veteran, so I'm not too smart to remember what it was like to be utterly confused.

I'll be honest: SEO isn't my "one true calling." It's not what I wanted to be when I was 12, and thoughts of backlinking campaigns weren't what kept me up at night (although sometimes, now they do). But it's saving me from having to enter the corporate grind, and the more I do SEO, the more I'm beginning to actually love it.
  • You grow to love what your everyday life depends upon.
I guess you can call that lesson #1.

But getting down to more actionable items, which is what I know anyone who took the time to read this is is looking for. I'll start with the most important one of this post:
  • If you want to write an eBook and sell it on your website, don't spend 4 months making everything look perfect.
Yeah, in case you're wondering, that's what I did. I realize now that that was a monumentally stupid idea, but what did I know? I had no idea how the internet world worked. I studied Psychology in college, and I knew how much work had to go into writing each and every book that my professors wrote. So I figured, hey, if I wanted to be successful online, my eBook had to be as good as anything I wrote in school.

Well, it didn't.

I could have written my eBook in a few weeks, and instead it took me 3 months. I could have designed my site in a week, and instead it took me a month. The truth is, shoppers online don't need to see an incredibly beautiful site. If they're in the shopping mentality, there are really only a few triggers that will compel them to pull out their wallets, and pristine CSS isn't one of them. And that reminds me:
  • Spend most of your time perfecting one single craft, and outsource 90% of the rest
If you don't want to become a web designer, don't spend a month designing your website. Yeah, it was fun learning CSS and HTML and all that, but when you spend an entire day trying to figure out how to move your nav bar 50 pixels to the right, you know there is something wrong.

Spend the bulk of your time becoming an authority in ONE thing, and once you've got that mastered, center your business around THAT. Don't try to be a jack of all trades because you'll spread yourself thin.

Once I finally got my site in order, looking exactly the way I wanted it to, I knew I needed to start building links. So I did what anyone else would do and signed up for WarriorForum, scouring the threads for as much information as I could get my hands (eyes) on. Hell, I'll even make a point out of that:
  • As long as you know how to weed out the crap, the information you get from internet marketing forums is as good as you'll get from professional SEOs.
Don't believe me? Visit any major SEO company's website and take a look at what they offer. Here's a snippet from SEO.com's site:

Our team of SEO Experts will position your site where it can generate the kind of traffic that will convert to paying customers. Our SEO Strategies are based on:
  • Keyword Research
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Link Building
  • Website optimization Services and Content
  • Development/Copywriting
  • Online Public Relations/Press Release Optimization
  • Local Search Optimization
  • Mobile SEO
  • International Search
  • Shopping Search
  • Video SEO
  • Web Marketing Analytics
  • Reporting/KPIs
This is what the entire company is based on.

Look at those topics. Any of these topics could easily be new threads that you'll see on the forums tomorrow.

Don't think you need to pay some guy in a suit $250/hour to get SEO advice. If that makes you feel more comfortable, sure, be my guest, but the information he'll tell you is the same thing you could have gotten here for free.

Speaking of people who know what they're talking about, I want to make a plug here. Not for myself, but for the guy who taught me half of what I know about doing business online (almost all the non-SEO stuff). The guy whose blog I read in its entirety, dating back to '08, before I lifted a finger promoting my site. Big ups to Pat Flynn at The Smart Passive Income Blog who is one of the few people online who is truly out there to help all his readers (up over 13,000 now) make money online. As far as I know, he still personally responds to every single email he gets, and that is a huge accomplishment as far as I'm concerned.

As far as my own site goes, although I made plenty of mistakes and took way too much time creating it, I did do one thing right, though.
  • I got into a relatively easy niche to dominate, which put a magnifying glass to every single SEO technique I tried.
According to the Google Keyword tool, my target keyword only gets 390 searches per month. As a point of comparison, "lose weight" gets over 90,000.

Yeah, tiny niche.

For a while I thought this was a huge mistake. I picked the niche without doing any keyword research at all. I just knew a lot about the topic and I was determined to write the book.

But choosing a non-competitive niche was a great idea for a few reasons. Number one, I was absolutely clueless about how to rank a site. Imagine trying to rank a site for "make money online" when you don't even know what "nofollow" means. Good luck. By trying to rank a site when you're only up against 10 or so "real" competitors, every change you make has a clear cause-and-effect result on your rankings. When you're trying to rank up against 3000 other sites, you never seem to be getting anywhere for a while no matter what you try.

Number two, this gave me a realistic chance at being #1 for my target keyword. For the first month of doing SEO, all I did was create profiles in various forums, commented on blogs, write articles, and all the other familiar techniques that we've all grown accustomed to doing. And you know, it worked. I can't say what will work for "everyone," but I know what worked for me.
  • Out of all the most basic methods of linkbuilding, high PR dofollow blog commenting was the most effective.
I scoured the web for high PageRank pages to comment on, and once I got the hang of it, my site reached the first page in less than a week. For anyone out there, though, if you're planning on commenting on a blog, the least you can do is write a relevant, thoughtful comment. They're giving you a free backlink! Spam your own sites if you wish; don't spam theirs.

But although I was making progress, I knew there had to be a better way than that.
  • Why was I spending so much time writing article after article, signing up for forum after forum, just for one measly PR0 backlink?
Yes, yes, the domain might have been a PR6, but if your page is PR0, it doesn't make much difference. (I know there is some debate about this issue, but this has just been my experience.)

At that point I decided to stop listening to everyone's Grand Theory of SEO and instead decided to find out first hand what was working. I Googled the most competitive keywords I knew and I began to reverse-engineer where those top-ranking sites were getting their links from.
  • What I began to find out was that most of the top ranking sites were getting their links from the homepages of high PageRank sites.
Many of these links were presumably paid, but it seems like Google couldn't tell the difference. Oh, and that brings up one of the most important lessons I've learned:
  • Don't listen to everything Matt Cutts tells you.
A lot of the SEO advice Matt Cutts gives is spot-on (especially when it comes to more nitty-gritty webmaster stuff--stuff having to do with URL Canonicalization and 404 Errors--but in terms of finding great advice to rank your sites at the top of Google, the head of the webspam team is probably not the least biased source you can find.

Reverse-engineering top-ranking sites taught me that a lot of the stuff that Cutts and Google speak out against is the same kind of stuff that brings results.

I'm currently in the middle of an SEO experiment I'm conducting, which is meant to piece together this puzzle that I've tried to make clear in my head. There is so much more to say on this topic, but this post has gone long enough for you all, I assume.

If this post gets 0 comments, that's OK because I know even this forum is competitive to compete on. But if any who is just starting off with SEO wants to start a discussion on anything I've mentioned, I'd be more than happy to go into further detail.

I feel like it's my time to give back to this forum. Although there is certainly a lot of junk on this site (sorry!), there are also a great number of people who have a goldmine of information in their heads and an even kinder heart for explaining all they know to people they've never even met. You know exactly who you are...

I could have just said "Thank you," but I figure this post may be a little more useful. Well, I hope so at least.

To borrow a phrase from Pat Flynn, who borrowed it from Gary Vaynerchuk...keep crushing it out there. You guys are awesome.

-Brandon
#learned #months #seo
  • Profile picture of the author GoGetta
    Good post, and I agree with what you said.

    I, myself never dreamed of internet marketing as a kid, or even through my teens, but now I absolutely love it, and SEO is awesome. The feeling you get when you hit number 1 for the term(s) your targeting is awesome too.

    The part about perfection not being crucial is also another good point. It is very easy to keep adding and tweaking before you feel ready to show the world and launch sites and products. It is easy to think you havent got anything worthwile, and no one is going to buy what you created. When the key is to just put it together and run with it. CONSISTENT ACTION is the key to internet marketing WEALTH!

    GoGetta
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  • Profile picture of the author pedobear
    nice tips here. really appreciate it. thank you
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    • Profile picture of the author KatyaSenina
      I really enjoyed reading this post. Definitely has some golden nuggets in it. Quality backlinks are everything. And I agree reverse engineering a website is a great way to spy on your competitors.

      Do you mind sharing what sites you use to find out where your competitors are getting their backlinks from?

      I've heard of Backlinkwatch but their site has some faults I guess because it's not working for me.

      Also I came across: Backlink Checker

      I think it's the best one out there as far as I know. At least it's working. Do you have other recommends?
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      • Profile picture of the author Bingo123
        Thanks that was some really good advice.
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      • Profile picture of the author LangeTroels
        Originally Posted by KatyaSenina View Post

        I really enjoyed reading this post. Definitely has some golden nuggets in it. Quality backlinks are everything. And I agree reverse engineering a website is a great way to spy on your competitors.

        Do you mind sharing what sites you use to find out where your competitors are getting their backlinks from?

        I've heard of Backlinkwatch but their site has some faults I guess because it's not working for me.

        Also I came across: Backlink Checker

        I think it's the best one out there as far as I know. At least it's working. Do you have other recommends?
        I can recommend SEOSpyglass for backlink analysis..
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  • Profile picture of the author SGdarling
    Great post. Regarding the blog commenting. As far as I know links in the blog comments are nofollow on default. so it is hard to believe that blog commenting really pushed your site in Search engines.
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  • Profile picture of the author chooch
    Great post. It's good to see other people figuring out backlinking.

    I too don't like the reverse engineering, it takes some time going through all the backlinks. But...it does produce some good information. I've found one great .gov and one .edu site that have really paid off over the last few months

    SEO does take time...but the payoff is big...
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  • Profile picture of the author mistermint
    Brandon: Nice post!

    Great post. Regarding the blog commenting. As far as I know links in the blog comments are nofollow on default. so it is hard to believe that blog commenting really pushed your site in Search engines.
    IMO: No follow links are still counted as link juice naturally, high PR links and do follow carry more weight though.

    Your back links are better if they are relevent to your own site content..

    Gordon.
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    • Profile picture of the author brandonbaker
      Originally Posted by KatyaSenina View Post

      Do you mind sharing what sites you use to find out where your competitors are getting their backlinks from?
      By far the best tool to use here is SEO Spyglass. Their product costs $99.75 to buy, but you can just download the free version and that will be enough for 95% of what you need.

      You enter any URL into the program and it feeds back to you where it's getting all its backlinks from (up to 1100 backlinks). It scrapes off of Yahoo mostly, but the benefit of using Spyglass is that it gives you all the details you need of those backlinks, like PageRank, dofollow/nofollow, OBLs, all sorts of useful things. It's one of those "must-have" pieces of software, if you ask me.

      Speaking of "must-have," something else I highly recommend getting is a Firefox add-on called "NoDoFollow." When you turn it on, it highlights all the links on a page and highlights the nofollow links in red and the dofollow links in blue. I always find myself in situations where this comes in handy. And it's free.

      Originally Posted by SGdarling View Post

      Great post. Regarding the blog commenting. As far as I know links in the blog comments are nofollow on default. so it is hard to believe that blog commenting really pushed your site in Search engines.
      All Wordpress blogs are nofollow by default, yes, but not all blogs are Wordpress blogs. There are plenty of other blogs that are dofollow, but you just have to do the digging to find them.

      The best way that I found to find dofollow blogs is this:

      1. Search for a really competitive keyword in Google (i.e. make money online)
      2. Reverse engineer the links of one of the top sites using Spyglass
      3. Find all the highest PR pages that link back to that site
      4. Find which ones are blog comments
      5. Go to those blog pages and reverse engineer all of the sites you see that commented on that blog
      What you're likely to find is dozens upon dozens of blogs that are high PageRank that are also dofollow. It's time consuming, yes, but the rewards are pretty nice.

      It's amazing how far top-ranking sites have gone by doing nothing but blog commenting. SEO Spyglass will reveal all of that.

      Originally Posted by chooch View Post

      I've found one great .gov and one .edu site that have really paid off over the last few months
      Contrary to what you'll hear, there isn't much strong evidence that .gov and .edu sites in and of themselves confer greater amount of link juice than regular old .coms. What does seem to matter is authority, which comes in the way of PageRank. And since .edu and .gov sites tend to have higher PageRank, those sites will naturally be more powerful, but that's just as a function of their PageRank, not their .edu status.

      In other words, a link from the Yale homepage is powerful not because it's a .edu, but because it's a PR9.

      Originally Posted by mistermint View Post

      IMO: No follow links are still counted as link juice naturally, high PR links and do follow carry more weight though.
      Google has stated that nofollow links do not pass on any link juice:

      About rel="nofollow" - Webmaster Tools Help

      Spending your time going after nofollow links is a waste, if you ask me.

      Originally Posted by mistermint View Post

      Your back links are better if they are relevent to your own site content..
      This is also something else that hasn't been proven. Terry Kyle (a big time Warrior here) has said plenty of times that none of his #1 ranking sites have a single relevant link going to them.

      Think about it: if CNN linked to a site about poker, wouldn't that be a huge boost to the poker site? But what does CNN have to do with poker?

      You can check it out for yourself, look at who is linking to the top ranking sites, and check to see if you find nothing but relevant sites. Odds are you won't. I know because I've looked.
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      • Profile picture of the author renhoek
        Thanks for the great article. I have been struggling with the whole IM thing as well. I started out building "perfect sites" with wordpress and then even learning to customize CSS and other time wasters. Being a perfectionist I made sure that any article I wrote was absolutely correct. After a year of that (everyone learns at their own speed). Not too long ago I signed up here and began to lurk. What I discovered is that my search for perfection was crippling me. What you will see everyone say is this - "get off your butt and do SOMETHING" - in other words Take action. So I took a leap and bought a course from John Schwartz and began putting it thru the paces. I can't say that I made 1000's overnight but I have learned some very basic things that make it easy to replicate what I am doing. I know that I will make this thing work. I am determined to quit my day job and make enough money at IM to give me a good income. Most importantly I have to keep reminding myself that I must take action everyday.

        Thanks for taking time to read this.

        Glen
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  • Profile picture of the author s.miller
    hi brandonbaker...nice post....thanks for sharing here..im also a newbie in SEO...
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  • Profile picture of the author wkathome
    Great post on SEO. I too have been reading and studying what works and what doesn't. If you're blogging seo pressor is a great tool to add to your arsenal, really helps to optimize your post.
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  • Great post , Thanks for sharing your experience , and what do you think about steps to make a website rank at the top of SERPs for a keyword?
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    • Profile picture of the author brandonbaker
      Originally Posted by subashchandrapoudel View Post

      Great post , Thanks for sharing your experience , and what do you think about steps to make a website rank at the top of SERPs for a keyword?
      Well, it all depends what kind of keywords you're looking to rank for. I can tell you now that unless you're ready to invest 1-2 years at a minimum on a site, you'll have to shell out some cash if you want to rank for a highly competitive keyword. In other words, unless you can get "natural links" from high authority places (think Problogger.net), you'll probably need to invest money in tools to build links or buying those links yourself. I'm talking about for the really high competition keywords.

      If you're looking to rank low competition keywords, you can probably get by with blog commenting, forum profiles, link wheels, article marketing, etc.
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  • Profile picture of the author moneyspills
    Thanks for really sharing your ideals.
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  • Profile picture of the author Elvin
    hello brandon. i want to personally thank you for what you shared here. i am a starter in seo and i have my project that i am building (you just opened my eyes btw, i dont need to make the most perfect/beautiful site on earth and as soon as i build my site i will need to seo-tize it.

    i have a question: can you recommend me the best ebook/thread/pdf/website/whatever that will teach me all that i NEED to handle seo. i dont want to spend my time reading stories. i just need practical stuff.

    thanks again

    Elvin Xhimitiku
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    • Profile picture of the author brandonbaker
      Originally Posted by Elvin View Post

      hello brandon. i want to personally thank you for what you shared here. i am a starter in seo and i have my project that i am building (you just opened my eyes btw, i dont need to make the most perfect/beautiful site on earth and as soon as i build my site i will need to seo-tize it.
      And that alone made my post worth it. Glad you found it useful.

      Originally Posted by Elvin View Post

      i have a question: can you recommend me the best ebook/thread/pdf/website/whatever that will teach me all that i NEED to handle seo. i dont want to spend my time reading stories. i just need practical stuff.
      To be honest, the best teacher of SEO is looking at where the top ranking sites are getting their links from, and learning from that.

      Even if I gave you the best eBook, or the most useful thread in the world, if it doesn't match what is actually WORKING right now, what good is it? Well, what is actually working right now is right there for everyone to see.

      My advice is to download SEO Spyglass. That's #1. Number two is, search Google for extremely competitive keywords. Number three, run the #1 sites through SEO Spyglass and see where they are getting their links from.

      And the best thing about this is that it never goes out of style. The backlinks that are powering #1 sites will always be the best backlinks, by definition.

      You want a free lesson in SEO? Here's one. Run www. webhostinggeeks .com in SEO Spyglass. They rank #1 for "web hosting." Look at where they're getting their links, and you just learned something that no eBook could have explained better.
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  • Profile picture of the author Gibly32
    thanks for sharing this with us Brandon, very inspirational. You just echoed some of my past thoughts. You are right though, there is a lot of good and bad info on marketing forums, but once you get your eye trained there is a wealth of knowledge floating around that nobody should have to pay for.
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  • Profile picture of the author Clouisdhon
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    • Profile picture of the author rinor81
      Thanks for a wonderful and great post, I wish everyone best of luck in IM...it's a great business to work at.
      Besides the satisfaction of seeing your site on page 1 or even #1, it's so sweet to see a sale you've made through your site, nothing sweeter than that!
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  • Profile picture of the author redcell1
    Thanks for sharing your experience Brandon. As for backlinks I use opensiteexplorer.org by SEOMOZ just because the tool is free and really great.

    I admit it's not my dream job to do SEO for a living but I do have to say that I enjoy it. I mean it does have it's own set of challenges but it beats doing something you hate to do.
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  • Profile picture of the author patflynn
    Just wanted to come on here to say thank you for the mention in your post. You didn't have to do that, but seriously, thank you

    If there's anything I can do for you or anyone else reading this thread, please let me know. Cheers!
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    • Profile picture of the author brandonbaker
      Originally Posted by patflynn View Post

      Just wanted to come on here to say thank you for the mention in your post. You didn't have to do that, but seriously, thank you

      If there's anything I can do for you or anyone else reading this thread, please let me know. Cheers!
      Dude, you're everywhere.

      Thanks for stopping by, man. Appreciate that.
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  • Profile picture of the author creativekone
    Its a wonderfull posting. Thanks a lot, its a very good advice.
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  • Profile picture of the author rozzex
    Cheers for the lengthy and in depth information. Though i have one more point you should add, which is what that is getting me every time.

    Put all your efforts into one site

    As i consider myself as more of a web developer. I find myself with new ideas nearly everyday. Up till now i've been following those ideas with many of them never getting finished. Never getting anywhere. A lot of lost time though a lot learned.

    Also alexa is useful for finding out your competitors backlinks
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  • Profile picture of the author FamilyFrugal
    Okay, I've never bookmarked a post on a forum, but this one is getting bookmarked. Thanks, I'm about to try a free trial of seo spyglass. I actually feel a bit bad doing it though, LOL. I don't think of the sites ahead of me on the serps as competition necessarily, I just want to learn what they are doing and how to do it better
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    • Profile picture of the author brandonbaker
      Originally Posted by FamilyFrugal View Post

      Okay, I've never bookmarked a post on a forum, but this one is getting bookmarked. Thanks
      I'm honored. Glad you found it useful.

      Originally Posted by FamilyFrugal View Post

      I'm about to try a free trial of seo spyglass. I actually feel a bit bad doing it though, LOL.
      Nah, don't feel bad about that. Their free trial is probably the best marketing tool they have. Once people see the value that Spyglass provides, most of them can't help but buy it. And once you get into more advanced SEO, buying the full version is probably a good idea, anyway.

      For beginners, yes, the free version is more than enough.

      Originally Posted by FamilyFrugal View Post

      I don't think of the sites ahead of me on the serps as competition necessarily, I just want to learn what they are doing and how to do it better
      And that's exactly what you want to do.

      I very rarely ever look at my "competition." SEO is more or less the same across all niches. The basics, I mean. Discover where the top ranking sites are getting their links from--not just top ranking sites in your niche, but the most competitive niches you can think of. More than anything, that is what taught me SEO.
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      • Profile picture of the author creativekone
        This tips are very interesting to me. It really help me a lot. Its a great job. Thank you so much.
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  • Profile picture of the author LadySara
    Thanks, Brandon. Your post is very appreciated. You just saved me a lot of time of trial & error.

    I love to read posts from Warriors who have "been there, done that".

    Sara
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  • Profile picture of the author John Williamson
    Thanks for the great post. Interesting take on things.
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  • Profile picture of the author dipenmehta
    such a nice information about seo. i am newcomer in seo this post is really helpfull for me thanks to author.
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  • Profile picture of the author Elvin
    To Brandon:
    Today i just finished up my site (which i thought it would take me couple weeks to get it Shining & Splendid). Thanks for the advice again.

    Question: After i have done Spyglass on my top niche competitors and found where they are links, is it true that all that is left for me is to get more links than them (more high pr links then them)??? Or is there anything else i need to do SEO on?

    Thanks again for your continuous support
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    • Profile picture of the author brandonbaker
      Originally Posted by Elvin View Post

      To Brandon:
      Today i just finished up my site (which i thought it would take me couple weeks to get it Shining & Splendid). Thanks for the advice again.
      Sweet.

      Originally Posted by Elvin View Post

      Question: After i have done Spyglass on my top niche competitors and found where they are links, is it true that all that is left for me is to get more links than them (more high pr links then them)??? Or is there anything else i need to do SEO on?
      Well, not exactly. No one can really tell you the definite answer to this question, but what I can tell you is this: to beat your competitors in the SERPs, you do not need to have more backlinks than they do. You can have just 20 backlinks and beat a site that has 1,000,000.

      Think about it: if I build a site that is called "greenrabbitsrunquickly.com," and set all my page titles to "Green Rabbits Run Quickly," I bet I could rank #1 in Google for that keyword with only 1 backlink.

      OK, OK, this is obvious and nonsense. Granted. But what this simple example shows is that you don't need thousands and thousands of backlinks to beat your competition. You just need to be more relevant and more authoritative than your competition.

      Relevant means you have to match your target keywords with the following attributes of your site:
      • Title tags
      • Header tags (H1, H2, H3)
      • On-page content (keyword density, etc.)
      • Anchor text

      Authoritative simply means getting as many high quality links as you can. These are in-context, dofollow links from pages with high PageRank. Now, note that I don't mean a link from a profile from a high PR forum. That would be a link on a PR0 page, that happens to be on a PR6 or PR7 site. That still counts as PR0, and unless you build hundreds or thousands of those links, they won't help you much. They are low quality links.

      I also don't mean blog commenting. Yes, I mentioned these were helpful, but they are still a beginner technique. If you're in a low competition niche, high PR blog commenting will help you, granted that your links are dofollow, which are hard to find.

      The problem with blog comment links are that they are out of context--they are non-contextual. Google can recognize whether a link comes from the content of a site (a CNN story, for example) or whether it comes from something out of context (a random user leaving his link in the comments to that story, for example). They recognize the difference and they value the contextual links far more. Terry Kyle has done research on this and confirmed this to be true. Even Matt Cutts has stated that links in the footer are counted differently than links in-context.

      The best kinds of links are high PageRank, dofollow, contextual links with your target keywords. For very competitive niches, most of your competition knows how to get these kinds of links, and they are usually paid because of how valuable they are. For weaker niches, you won't need very many of these to rank your sites high in the SERPs.

      I will soon be offering a service that provides these links (excuse the plug!), but I'm not the only one. There are several other services like this, even on this forum.

      I know this is a lot to take in, but if I were in your shoes, I would try to learn more about the basics of SEO and try to have a good grasp of what makes a link strong and what makes a link weak. Once you feel that you understand this, you'll be better equipped to decide how you want to build your links, and how much money you are willing to invest in different kinds of links.

      Originally Posted by Elvin View Post

      Thanks again for your continuous support
      You're welcome.
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      • Profile picture of the author getin2learn
        Originally Posted by brandonbaker View Post

        Sweet.



        Well, not exactly. No one can really tell you the definite answer to this question, but what I can tell you is this: to beat your competitors in the SERPs, you do not need to have more backlinks than they do. You can have just 20 backlinks and beat a site that has 1,000,000.

        Think about it: if I build a site that is called "greenrabbitsrunquickly.com," and set all my page titles to "Green Rabbits Run Quickly," I bet I could rank #1 in Google for that keyword with only 1 backlink.

        OK, OK, this is obvious and nonsense. Granted. But what this simple example shows is that you don't need thousands and thousands of backlinks to beat your competition. You just need to be more relevant and more authoritative than your competition.

        Relevant means you have to match your target keywords with the following attributes of your site:
        • Title tags
        • Header tags (H1, H2, H3)
        • On-page content (keyword density, etc.)
        • Anchor text

        Authoritative simply means getting as many high quality links as you can. These are in-context, dofollow links from pages with high PageRank. Now, note that I don't mean a link from a profile from a high PR forum. That would be a link on a PR0 page, that happens to be on a PR6 or PR7 site. That still counts as PR0, and unless you build hundreds or thousands of those links, they won't help you much. They are low quality links.

        I also don't mean blog commenting. Yes, I mentioned these were helpful, but they are still a beginner technique. If you're in a low competition niche, high PR blog commenting will help you, granted that your links are dofollow, which are hard to find.

        The problem with blog comment links are that they are out of context--they are non-contextual. Google can recognize whether a link comes from the content of a site (a CNN story, for example) or whether it comes from something out of context (a random user leaving his link in the comments to that story, for example). They recognize the difference and they value the contextual links far more. Terry Kyle has done research on this and confirmed this to be true. Even Matt Cutts has stated that links in the footer are counted differently than links in-context.

        The best kinds of links are high PageRank, dofollow, contextual links with your target keywords. For very competitive niches, most of your competition knows how to get these kinds of links, and they are usually paid because of how valuable they are. For weaker niches, you won't need very many of these to rank your sites high in the SERPs.

        I will soon be offering a service that provides these links (excuse the plug!), but I'm not the only one. There are several other services like this, even on this forum.

        I know this is a lot to take in, but if I were in your shoes, I would try to learn more about the basics of SEO and try to have a good grasp of what makes a link strong and what makes a link weak. Once you feel that you understand this, you'll be better equipped to decide how you want to build your links, and how much money you are willing to invest in different kinds of links.



        You're welcome.

        Thanks Brandon for sharing your experience. I believe only quality service may come out of this.

        In the seo blurbs & talks there is a term "page rank leaks". It is something that explains, or shoud be at least explaining, why backlinks from profile pages siting on high PR domain are of greater value, despite the fact that such pages have PR0. It is difficult to say how much is this "greater value" in some material aspects, but the story behind is domain authority. Every link coming from a domain authority, no matter if it's coming from a PR0 page, has greater importance than the link coming from domain "unauthority" site - because the page rank "leaks" from the top to the bottom inside the domain. If the link from the profile page is dofollow, the better. Not only the link juice will be passed, but the authority of the original domain. That's why I wouldn't minimize importance of profile pages and backlinks from it, especially if they are built on high PR properties.

        Another example of this would be if we publish exactly the same article at the same time on some unknown anonymous website and in Ezinearticles directory. Providing that both article pages are indexed in Google, perfectly seo optimized, and have no inbound or outbound links, what do you think which one will rank higher in the SERP?
        Ezine's of course. Why? Domain authority cannot be challenged.

        Oh, btw.. I checked first 1,000 of backlinks to www . google . com
        Believe it or not, all local google sites are linked to it - and also interlinked together. Will Google penalize itself for utilizing linkwheels perhaps? Can't even think of.
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        • Profile picture of the author brandonbaker
          Originally Posted by getin2learn View Post

          That's why I wouldn't minimize importance of profile pages and backlinks from it, especially if they are built on high PR properties.
          Oh, I totally agree with you. I've seen profile backlinks do wonders for plenty of people, especially if done on a mass scale. I think it can serve well as a supplementary backlinking campaign, but it's my opinion that if you want to rank #1 for the most competitive niches, you're going to need to seek out better options. That applies to blog commenting as well.

          After months of research, I realized that the most powerful type of backlink is a contextual, dofollow link from high PageRank pages. Everyone covets a link from an article on CNN--it's the exact type of link I'm talking about.

          So I set out to acquire as many high PageRank domain names as I could, and place my own link in the bodies of those sites--not in the blogroll or footer. The beauty of these links is that they are permanent, and they have whatever anchor text I want. And each one counts for hundreds, and probably thousands of profile links.
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  • Profile picture of the author Smith34
    Originally Posted by brandonbaker View Post

    I write this post mainly for anyone who is just starting out, and anyone who has done SEO for more than a few months will already know the truth of what I'm about to say. Either way, take from it what you wish.

    I'm happy to help anyone who is just starting out, and I feel like I'm in a great position to do that because I'm a) not a beginner, so I'm no longer utterly confused and b) I'm not a seasoned veteran, so I'm not too smart to remember what it was like to be utterly confused.

    I'll be honest: SEO isn't my "one true calling." It's not what I wanted to be when I was 12, and thoughts of backlinking campaigns weren't what kept me up at night (although sometimes, now they do). But it's saving me from having to enter the corporate grind, and the more I do SEO, the more I'm beginning to actually love it.
    • You grow to love what your everyday life depends upon.
    I guess you can call that lesson #1.

    But getting down to more actionable items, which is what I know anyone who took the time to read this is is looking for. I'll start with the most important one of this post:
    • If you want to write an eBook and sell it on your website, don't spend 4 months making everything look perfect.
    Yeah, in case you're wondering, that's what I did. I realize now that that was a monumentally stupid idea, but what did I know? I had no idea how the internet world worked. I studied Psychology in college, and I knew how much work had to go into writing each and every book that my professors wrote. So I figured, hey, if I wanted to be successful online, my eBook had to be as good as anything I wrote in school.

    Well, it didn't.

    I could have written my eBook in a few weeks, and instead it took me 3 months. I could have designed my site in a week, and instead it took me a month. The truth is, shoppers online don't need to see an incredibly beautiful site. If they're in the shopping mentality, there are really only a few triggers that will compel them to pull out their wallets, and pristine CSS isn't one of them. And that reminds me:
    • Spend most of your time perfecting one single craft, and outsource 90% of the rest
    If you don't want to become a web designer, don't spend a month designing your website. Yeah, it was fun learning CSS and HTML and all that, but when you spend an entire day trying to figure out how to move your nav bar 50 pixels to the right, you know there is something wrong.

    Spend the bulk of your time becoming an authority in ONE thing, and once you've got that mastered, center your business around THAT. Don't try to be a jack of all trades because you'll spread yourself thin.

    Once I finally got my site in order, looking exactly the way I wanted it to, I knew I needed to start building links. So I did what anyone else would do and signed up for WarriorForum, scouring the threads for as much information as I could get my hands (eyes) on. Hell, I'll even make a point out of that:
    • As long as you know how to weed out the crap, the information you get from internet marketing forums is as good as you'll get from professional SEOs.
    Don't believe me? Visit any major SEO company's website and take a look at what they offer. Here's a snippet from SEO.com's site:

    This is what the entire company is based on.

    Look at those topics. Any of these topics could easily be new threads that you'll see on the forums tomorrow.

    Don't think you need to pay some guy in a suit $250/hour to get SEO advice. If that makes you feel more comfortable, sure, be my guest, but the information he'll tell you is the same thing you could have gotten here for free.

    Speaking of people who know what they're talking about, I want to make a plug here. Not for myself, but for the guy who taught me half of what I know about doing business online (almost all the non-SEO stuff). The guy whose blog I read in its entirety, dating back to '08, before I lifted a finger promoting my site. Big ups to Pat Flynn at The Smart Passive Income Blog who is one of the few people online who is truly out there to help all his readers (up over 13,000 now) make money online. As far as I know, he still personally responds to every single email he gets, and that is a huge accomplishment as far as I'm concerned.

    As far as my own site goes, although I made plenty of mistakes and took way too much time creating it, I did do one thing right, though.
    • I got into a relatively easy niche to dominate, which put a magnifying glass to every single SEO technique I tried.
    According to the Google Keyword tool, my target keyword only gets 390 searches per month. As a point of comparison, "lose weight" gets over 90,000.

    Yeah, tiny niche.

    For a while I thought this was a huge mistake. I picked the niche without doing any keyword research at all. I just knew a lot about the topic and I was determined to write the book.

    But choosing a non-competitive niche was a great idea for a few reasons. Number one, I was absolutely clueless about how to rank a site. Imagine trying to rank a site for "make money online" when you don't even know what "nofollow" means. Good luck. By trying to rank a site when you're only up against 10 or so "real" competitors, every change you make has a clear cause-and-effect result on your rankings. When you're trying to rank up against 3000 other sites, you never seem to be getting anywhere for a while no matter what you try.

    Number two, this gave me a realistic chance at being #1 for my target keyword. For the first month of doing SEO, all I did was create profiles in various forums, commented on blogs, write articles, and all the other familiar techniques that we've all grown accustomed to doing. And you know, it worked. I can't say what will work for "everyone," but I know what worked for me.
    • Out of all the most basic methods of linkbuilding, high PR dofollow blog commenting was the most effective.
    I scoured the web for high PageRank pages to comment on, and once I got the hang of it, my site reached the first page in less than a week. For anyone out there, though, if you're planning on commenting on a blog, the least you can do is write a relevant, thoughtful comment. They're giving you a free backlink! Spam your own sites if you wish; don't spam theirs.

    But although I was making progress, I knew there had to be a better way than that.
    • Why was I spending so much time writing article after article, signing up for forum after forum, just for one measly PR0 backlink?
    Yes, yes, the domain might have been a PR6, but if your page is PR0, it doesn't make much difference. (I know there is some debate about this issue, but this has just been my experience.)

    At that point I decided to stop listening to everyone's Grand Theory of SEO and instead decided to find out first hand what was working. I Googled the most competitive keywords I knew and I began to reverse-engineer where those top-ranking sites were getting their links from.
    • What I began to find out was that most of the top ranking sites were getting their links from the homepages of high PageRank sites.
    Many of these links were presumably paid, but it seems like Google couldn't tell the difference. Oh, and that brings up one of the most important lessons I've learned:
    • Don't listen to everything Matt Cutts tells you.
    A lot of the SEO advice Matt Cutts gives is spot-on (especially when it comes to more nitty-gritty webmaster stuff--stuff having to do with URL Canonicalization and 404 Errors--but in terms of finding great advice to rank your sites at the top of Google, the head of the webspam team is probably not the least biased source you can find.

    Reverse-engineering top-ranking sites taught me that a lot of the stuff that Cutts and Google speak out against is the same kind of stuff that brings results.

    I'm currently in the middle of an SEO experiment I'm conducting, which is meant to piece together this puzzle that I've tried to make clear in my head. There is so much more to say on this topic, but this post has gone long enough for you all, I assume.

    If this post gets 0 comments, that's OK because I know even this forum is competitive to compete on. But if any who is just starting off with SEO wants to start a discussion on anything I've mentioned, I'd be more than happy to go into further detail.

    I feel like it's my time to give back to this forum. Although there is certainly a lot of junk on this site (sorry!), there are also a great number of people who have a goldmine of information in their heads and an even kinder heart for explaining all they know to people they've never even met. You know exactly who you are...

    I could have just said "Thank you," but I figure this post may be a little more useful. Well, I hope so at least.

    To borrow a phrase from Pat Flynn, who borrowed it from Gary Vaynerchuk...keep crushing it out there. You guys are awesome.

    -Brandon
    Very very informative post, Thanks for sharing with community.
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  • Profile picture of the author Amys101place
    Very well written. Great job!
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  • Profile picture of the author panket
    It's a great help to me, thank you very much.
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  • Profile picture of the author CikaPero
    Maybe you should start blogging about SEO. It looks like you have a lot of experience.
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    • Profile picture of the author brandonbaker
      Originally Posted by Amys101place View Post

      Very well written. Great job!
      Originally Posted by panket View Post

      It's a great help to me, thank you very much.
      Originally Posted by bilzz View Post

      Agreed .well said ! thats really helpful who new comes in this field
      Glad you all found it useful.

      Originally Posted by CikaPero View Post

      Maybe you should start blogging about SEO.
      You read my mind. I'm looking to become an SEO consultant sometime in the near future, but before I can do that, I need to learn way more than what I know now. This is just the beginning...
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  • Profile picture of the author yuxx109
    Originally Posted by brandonbaker View Post

    • Out of all the most basic methods of linkbuilding, high PR dofollow blog commenting was the most effective.
    If google really stop updating PR from now on. How to know if that site/page is valueable to leave a comment?
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  • Profile picture of the author HugoLand
    Great article! Thanks!
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  • Profile picture of the author ADukes81
    Great post! I am fairly new to the SEO game and I spend my Friday nights at hoe building links, writing articles, etc.
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  • Profile picture of the author LoginBD
    thanks for this informative post.
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  • Profile picture of the author LangeTroels
    Good input about researching the strategy of websites ranking #1 in the most competitive niches.. Thanks..
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  • Profile picture of the author ocd
    Originally Posted by brandonbaker View Post


    Yeah, it was fun learning CSS and HTML and all that, but when you spend an entire day trying to figure out how to move your nav bar 50 pixels to the right, you know there is something wrong.



    -Brandon


    Unbelievable! I thought I was the only one. I spent an entire day trying to remove that stinkin nav bar through the editor but couldn't comprehend which editor to use.

    Moving the sidebar was much more fun though. Good Lord.


    Anyway, the REAL frustrations have come from putting in hours for backlinks and getting a 1% return of backlinks. I just don't get it. I'm getting nothing it seems. Is that par for the course?
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    The link of great joy and happiness...but this one? This is the one that all window cleaning companies in the free world are inspired by. Hey, where did the sarcasm font go?
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    • Profile picture of the author jeremya23
      I got fed up with trying to get hundreds of profile backlinks. 1. It took forever to manually post. 2. Most sites never got crawled and the backlink never showed up anyway.
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  • Profile picture of the author evazk
    Thanks for the articles, I also learned a lot from it.

    I believe that if you focus on just one thing then it would be very advantageous I think as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author sortshots
    awesome post!!! i think every newbie should learn from your experience.. thanx for sharing..
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  • Profile picture of the author studioensigns
    I'm not new to internet marketing and still learning new things everyday information you provided will help me in the future.

    Thanks
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  • Profile picture of the author mlord10
    Great post. Seems that you have come a long way in your first few months with SEO. While I can't say I ever dreamed of being an internet marketer, I absolutely love SEO!

    Here are a few more SEO tips for anyone that is interested.

    -Make sure that your website has a good internal linking structure. Include plenty of post to post links, and make sure that you have a site map. These are crucial on-page SEO techniques.

    -As far as link building is concerned, blog commenting does work, and it works well. Blog commenting is a big part of my SEO strategy for every site we launch. Also, make sure to focus on getting links from other related blogs (even if they are your own; hint-hint) and other web 2.0 properties.
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  • Profile picture of the author jhonsean
    This story serves an inspiration to all newbies like me. What I have observed is all these stuff that builds SEO is just an clue to our never ending methods to perform well optimization in our sites. Thanks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Abdi Shakur
    Great Post love all this info. Am a newbie as well I haven't got to SEO yet in my IM project. but was just browsing and already found out more than i bargained for in this one post greatly appreciate it. Also a big thank you to all the helpful marketers on this forum hopefully i will be able to return to this community like brandon done here one day. Good luck everyone.
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  • Profile picture of the author Vortex015
    Thanks so much for this post. I am now on the hunt for high pr homepage links.
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    • Profile picture of the author mistermint
      vortex:

      Thanks so much for this post. I am now on the hunt for high pr homepage links.
      Don't make all your backlinks go to your homepage...get links to pages, posts inside your site and...

      pingler.com is quite handy! it's free.

      If you do article marketing don't forget to bookmark your articles...

      RSS feeds are also very good for traffic...

      Gordon.
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      • Profile picture of the author brandonbaker
        Originally Posted by mistermint View Post

        vortex:



        Don't make all your backlinks go to your homepage...get links to pages, posts inside your site and...

        pingler.com is quite handy! it's free.

        If you do article marketing don't forget to bookmark your articles...

        RSS feeds are also very good for traffic...

        Gordon.
        Gordon, I think what he meant was that he was looking to get links from homepages of other high PageRank domains to his site. I didn't go into it in very much detail when I first wrote my original post, but the conclusion I came to after all my research was that high PR contextual links were the most effective tool to improving your SERP position, and I've now begun to offer this as a service to serious internet marketers who've begun to feel the same way.

        But yes, by all means send backlinks to every page on your website, not just your homepage!
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        • Profile picture of the author mistermint
          Hi Brandon,

          Yes, understand what your saying...my mistake sorry.

          High PR contextual links are very powerful and essential for long term rankings.

          A lot of the link building methods available today only give short term credibility to your link juice whereas high PR links are quality and give longevity.

          Gordon.
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  • Profile picture of the author lesterlim85
    Hi guys

    May I ask a question? I kinda messed up a bit. Can anyone explain what is contextual links and how are they different from the so called "normal" links?

    Cheers,
    Lester
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    • Profile picture of the author rinor81
      Originally Posted by lesterlim85 View Post

      Hi guys

      May I ask a question? I kinda messed up a bit. Can anyone explain what is contextual links and how are they different from the so called "normal" links?

      Cheers,
      Lester
      Hey Lester,

      Contextual links are links that come out from inside your text, from a paragraph.
      You write some sort of article let's say in your site and from that article's body you link using the anchor text you prefer to another site or a different page, whatever you choose.

      Understood man?

      Google loves these sorts of links way more than so called regular links so do use this even basic I should SEO method to promote your sites/products.

      All the best,

      Nir,
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  • Profile picture of the author hilhilginger
    your post sounds great and informative. I have made key points recorded in my pc for my SEO work. Let me thank you for putting this wonderful writings.
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  • Profile picture of the author JackPowers
    Good post.

    But..

    You automate creation of low value links and manually find high value links.

    You're correct about in context high pr links being the best by far.
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  • Profile picture of the author clwest
    Brandon,

    Thanks for verbalizing what some of us found out by accident (especially not trying to make things perfect). I know in my case, I was able get the PR raised quickly using many of the things you mentioned.

    Keep it up!
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    Ohhh, Panini

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  • Profile picture of the author iresh
    Thank you for sharing your personal experience with us,Great article Thank You very much
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  • Profile picture of the author ilovejdmtoy
    • Keyword Research
    • Competitive Analysis
    are the two most important things for SEO in my personal experience.
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  • Profile picture of the author jazbo
    Good post. I absolutely love reverse engineering competitor sites. If you have no tried that as a tactic, then I urge you to do so.
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